Springfield will see art — and make art — in a new and unusual way at the Springfield Art Museum with the arrival of a mental health-themed exhibition.
“Mend Piece,” a concept exhibition by Yoko Ono — yes, that Yoko Ono — opens April 9 and runs to July 10.
“It represents a type of art that the museum doesn’t have in its collection,” Springfield Art Museum Director Nick Nelson said. “As far as I know, this is the first exhibition of this kind that we’ve done in our history.”
“Mend Piece” is an exhibit in the style of an “interactive, participatory performance art piece,” and Springfield received a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to host it. Nelson explained to the Springfield City Council what “interactive participatory performance art piece” means in layman’s terms, and what it will mean for people who come to the art museum when the exhibit opens.
“It’s a mouthful, but as you come into the gallery, what you’ll encounter is a table filled with broken pieces of broken china and pottery, and materials to repair and mend that pottery,” Nelson said.
Visitors will use glue, twine and other supplies to create their own small pieces of art from the broken china and pottery.
“This is a little different than your typical exhibition, because instead of sitting and staring at the art, you’re going to participate in it. You will become part of the art,” Nelson said.
Patrons won’t take their small sculptures home. Instead, they will be displayed at the Springfield Art Museum, creating a larger collection of items to view as the “Mend Piece” exhibition progresses day by day.
Mental health a central theme
Guests will be encouraged to think and reflect as they take part in the artwork. Ono, 89, began producing conceptual art in the 1960s. Audience participation pieces and interactive concept art have long been part of her practice.
“Mend Piece” encourages people to think about areas of their life where healing is needed.
“Our goal is really to bring the community together around this table in a creative activity that will be positive and fun for people,” Nelson said. “It also presents an opportunity to talk about mending and healing as it relates to mental health and wellness.”
There are some ancillary programs tied to the grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to encourage people to make their own art, and to provide space for participating in mental wellness and self-care activities.
Through a partnership with Burrell Behavioral Health, the art museum will bring in some art therapists to discuss creative expression. There will also be a Springfield Symphony performance of the work of John Cage, an artist connected to Ono’s early career. The museum will also host workshops where guests can learn about working with plarn, or plastic yarn, tai chi, art journaling and kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken china using gold or silver lacquer.
There will also be a litter cleanup event and some special family tours with another interactive exhibit geared toward families learning about performance art associated with Mend Piece, and funded through the $25,000 grant.
“All of these things relate to self-care and wellness, and also environmental awareness and mending the environment, which is an important part of Yoko Ono’s work,” Nelson said.
You can learn more about the Springfield Art Museum and Yoko Ono’s “Mend Piece” exhibition by visiting the museum’s website. “Mend Piece” will appear in the museum’s Eldrege Gallery.